VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System hospital slow to report Legionella bacteria, CDC says
By Michael Hasch
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says an infection team was not immediately notified of positive tests for Legionella bacteria at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System hospital in Oakland, Sen. Bob Casey's office said on Monday.
CDC spokesman Tom Skinner declined to release the report or to comment other than to say the report was done at the request of the Veterans Affairs Department.
“Customarily, it's up to them to provide further comment on the report,” Skinner said.
VA spokesman David Cowgill could not be reached. Casey's office could not be reached for further comment on a news release announcing the report.
Casey's revelation was made on the eve of Tuesday's investigative hearing under the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs in Washington into the Legionnaires disease outbreak that is blamed in at least one veteran's death at the hospital last year.
“The CDC report underscores the need to have appropriate reporting requirements to keep people safe and informed,” Casey said in the release.
“This report still leaves many unanswered questions and I am hopeful that the (VA Office of Inspector General) report I requested in December will provide additional answers.”
U.S. Reps. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, and Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, sought Tuesday's hearing to highlight standards for water purification, whether the Pittsburgh VA followed those standards and how to prevent repeat episodes.
Doyle and Murphy could not be reached Monday night.
According to Casey, the CDC report shows:
• Positive Legionella tests were not reported to the infection prevention team immediately. Casey's office did not specify which infection team.
• There is no comprehensive schematic for the entire potable water system at the hospital because of the age of the system and ongoing modifications to it.
• VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, the state Department of Health and Allegheny County Health Department need to re-evaluate how they identify Legionnaires' outbreaks and situations that may lead to outbreaks.
Tests showed that five people contracted the waterborne form of pneumonia inside Pittsburgh's VA system when the Legionnaires outbreak was announced in November. One patient died from the disease, the Allegheny County Health Department said.
Three hospital workers contracted pneumonia and a fourth reported respiratory problems, but none of the workers could be conclusively diagnosed with Legionnaires, according to their union, the American. Federation of Government Employees.
The VA Office of the Inspector General is conducting a separate review of the Oakland outbreak and into the control of Legionella bacteria at other VA hospitals, with findings expected in March.
The VA announced the outbreak on Nov. 16, about a week before World War II veteran William E. Nicklas, 87, died of Legionnaires at the Oakland hospital.
His family believes he contracted the disease inside the facility and that his death was preventable, attorney Harry S. Cohen said.
Illinois manufacturer LiquiTech Environmental Solutions reported finding deficiencies in the hospital's water systems nearly 12 months before the VA revealed the outbreak, tentatively tied to contaminated tap water.
Staff writer Adam Smeltz contributed to this report. Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7820 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Likely $2.3B influx puts PennDOT big-ticket road projects in play
- Man shot by Pennsylvania state police at Pittsburgh International Airport was key witness in Massachusetts murder trial
- Result hazy as historic-building vote nears
- Pa. child abuse statutes faulted as too narrow
- Hill District nonprofit’s finances are taking another dive
- Newsmaker: José M.F. Moura
- Money being raised to furnish Uniontown Marine’s home
- Food stamp fraud, bloat overshadow debate on farm bill
- Natural history museum in the red
- Baldwin-Whitehall board hits ‘magical line of dissatisfaction’
- Pittsburgh Foundation’s Wishbook features 48 nonprofits